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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Storing Shoes 101

Modern homes often have big walk-in closets within at least some of the bedrooms, which is great. But sometimes these closets are big on space, low on shelving and/or poor in overall design.  Or there's plenty of shelving- but it's set at levels only Goliath or Paul Bunyon could see at eye level.  Laundry areas are often guilty of this crime, but bedroom closets have to hold such a wide variety of items that they're almost always under-utilized because of this design flaw.  Even shelving that's at a reasonable height can be placed too far apart to serve your particular needs, as well.  Frequently you'll see one side of a bedroom closet have a single-hung closet rod for taller clothing.  And then on the other side of the closet will be a double-hung rod for shorter clothing to be stored 2x2. This is great if all (or mostly) what you have to store is clothing and a few pairs of shoes in your closets.  In smaller homes, though, these bedroom closets must serve as storage for vacuum cleaners, buckets full of cleaning supples, brooms, handbags and shoes.  And footwear is what I'm going to focus on storing today.

Using closet storage to it's absolute square-footage advantage varies from individual to individual.  The best book that you can read is by Linda Koopersmith, titled "The Beverly Hills Organizer's Home Organizing Bible".  You'll learn how to maximize every sheer inch of space you call your real estate, as well as your handbag, office and everything else under the sun that you can think of.

If you cannot add to or move around existing shelving your closet (which is the first step that I always recommend- use what you already have on hand for storage before buying new items for storage!), you have the following footwear storage options to utilize instead:

Folding and/or stackable bookcases: Not just for holding books, these are a favorite of mine for holding sets of workout clothes, baskets full of odd-shaped items (like those giant old-fashioned photo albums), portable DVD players, media of all kinds, cleaning products, folded linens and shoes.  Floor-to-ceiling models naturally tend to hold more in less space, but these come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Corner units, painted wood (you'd be amazed at the range of colors and shades available) and folding units ensure maximum flexibility at a minimum cost.  A good folding bookcase will be as sturdy as a normal unit- read online reviews and be prepared to spend a few extra dollars on the more expensive folding bookcases, because this is one case where the cost is warranted.  A variety of platform sizes ensure that you can make at least one of these bookcases fit somewhere in your house, too.  A bookcase like this tucked under a closet rod or shelf can make use of space that otherwise stays empty.  You could also hand free-standing shelves up, and if you have a drill and the skills to this, these make terrific use of blank walls.

Free-standing cubes, drawers and/or shoe shelving: These can come in everything from very mod styles to the very traditional.  Free-standing drawer units can be a great way to store shoes, boots, sweaters, etc., in a closet.  (The shelf above a double-hung rod can usually be made to hold so much more than they do in most homes.)  These units may look like a piece of modern artwork or more like simple but very short bookcases with no bottom shelf.  They may or may not need assembly, so pay attention to descriptions and instructions.  As always, measure your space and write down the measurements before buying these.

Hanging shoe organizer (which have a single or double hanger): These come in either flip-flop style or look like a smaller version of a hanging sweater organizer for a closet rod.  They will take away some of your space for hanging clothes, so keep that in mind before buying.  These are best for those who have some hanging room to spare but very little shelf or free-standing space.

Over-the-door shoe organizer: Doors can really be utilized as storage in so many ways, provided that there is adequate room for the door to swing open, be reached easily for the items you're storing on them and be closed when you're finished.  You don't want anything on a door that is already in too snug a place to open and close with ease now.  But if space allows, an organizer can make up for square footage that's lacking.  Don't buy these if you have doors which don't open freely or already stick when you're trying to close them, because these will add a little bulk to the top of the door.  I recommend screwing the bottom of the organizer to the door itself too, or using double-sided Velcro to do this, so that the organizer isn't banging against the wall or door.  This step provides some stability to the organizer, too.

Shoe trees: These come in a variety of sizes and finishes.  My opinion?  Buy a floor-to-ceiling model, because it allows you room to grow (especially important in master bedrooms where two people are sharing shoe storage space).  You're using the footprint's worth of space anyway (no pun intended)- you might as well get all the way up to the top of your room and maximize the storage space entirely. The taller party can use the highest "branches" on the tree.  Trees are an especially nice option when closet space is already used up and shoes have to be stored outside of there.  This is due to the relatively large amount of shoes that you can hold in a small space, and in a free-standing manner.

Underbed shoe storage: I recommend this only for long-leg boots which cannot reasonably be stored in a closet OR out-of-season shoes and boots.  The great advantage is that, assuming these are the zip-around kind, your footwear will stay virtually dust-free.  A big disadvantage is that they're not especially easy for anyone with shoulder, back or knee issues to dig out from under a bed & root through if necessary.  I think they're great for kids and younger people with no issues like this, but remember the old adage here- out of sight, out of mind.  Not everyone is wild about having stuff under their bed, either (I'm with you).  The outside of these storage units will collect some dust and make cleaning under the bed more of a pain in the neck.  As with any storage piece, consider the drawbacks, cleaning they'll add to your schedule and advantages before purchasing.

Here's to being an organized minimalist,
Liz

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